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Sydney challenge again for Highlanders

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Lynn McConnell     16 Mar 2016     Getty Images

Hooker Liam Coltman has become a central part of the Highlanders' pack who have been forced to quickly regain their competitive mojo as defending champions.

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The first round loss to the Blues had been a galvaniser and had produced two good home wins in Dunedin, but it is the ability to win away from home that is vital in any campaign.

"Every game in this competition is a tough game and the Waratahs are looking for a few more wins under their belt so they are going to come out firing on Friday so we've just got to be ready for that and really take the game to them," Coltman said.

"They're a big and physical team, that's always been part of their game, but they've also got some classy backs and real pace out wide, so we're going to have to watch them all across the park," he said.

The Highlanders showed they could win in the cauldron in Sydney last year, Coltman said this year was different with the Waratahs having a new look side, while the Highlanders were trucking along, so it was a case of going over there and doing their best.

"Everyone knows their role they have in the team. When everyone is on form it is great and it works out like it did at the weekend. Guys scoring tries from anywhere is what we want to see.

"We've had a good couple of wins the last two games and it is a case of keeping going forward and focusing on what we do best," he said.



While the scoreboard reflected a comfortable win over the Lions at the weekend the reality was different. It was a stunning third quarter that opened the game up but that was only possible after a tough forward battle.

"It was a very physical game, the Lions have got probably one of the best scrums in the competition. It was just a big battle up front really and it was a good game against them so we'll keep doing what we've been doing this week and getting our processes right.

"We've been doing a lot of scrummaging work during the week and the boys have got some sore bodies out of it but we're tracking along nicely and are pretty happy with where we are at," he said.

Any time they needed a reminder of what could happen when dropping their guard they only needed to think of the Blues game.

"It was first game up but any loss is a bit of a wake-up call, it doesn't matter when in the season it happens but it has got to sink in a bit more about what we've got to do as a team to make sure we get everything right on the paddock," he said.

Coltman said he was feeling good, looking forward to doing his job each week while also attempting to have some fun while going about his work and keeping injury free.

"Game time is the crucial part for any footy player and I've been lucky enough not to suffer any significant injuries and hopefully it stays that way.

"As a team we're feeling pretty good and we know there's still lots to work on and lots we can get better at, but on the other hand there's lot of positives coming out of our footy," he said.